Operators expecting slow tourism recovery

Queenstown tourism operators are optimistic, but realistic about the return of tourism after the Government’s announcements around the border reopening and targeted funding.

On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash announced the $49million kick-start fund which would be available for eligible tourism operators from April 1.

The fund was originally announced in May last year as part of the $200million Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Reset Plan, for which several Queenstown tourism operators had registered their interest.

The funds were available for tourism businesses needing to scale-up and/or come out of hibernation., and were allocated to local agencies or lead entities to administer — for Queenstown, Wanaka and surrounding areas, that was Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Adventure Group Ltd owner, Adrian Januszkiewicz, said the return of tourism was moving in the right direction but said yesterday’s funding announcement was “in many respects, [not] news”.

“The fund was announced some time ago … it’s good news that it’s going ahead … [but] probably a bit of a lost opportunity that the applications hadn’t been processed over the last six months when there was time to do so,” he said.

“People will need the money now, not at some time in the future when work around application qualification has been completed … but I don’t know how long that’s going to take.”

Under Adventure Group were several businesses offering snow rentals, canyoning and climbing — some of which did not operate over the summer season.

“The businesses have been burning cash at the moment … we’re all in survival mode.

“What [the kick-start fund] would do is allow us to hire people, put resources in place, because they will be in the inevitable ramp up and demand over time, we need to meet that demand and it costs money to do that.”

Hop on Hop off Wine Tours owner Juliana Kavanagh said she would not miss out on the opportunity to apply for the kick-start fund.

Her plan was to use the funding to reinstate the Bannockburn leg of her tours and extend other parts of the business.

“It’s been very much a very tough time.

“We deliver people who buy wine and buy tastings and buy lunch and my thing was just [to] keep going as much as I can, you know, and I’ve funded that myself, my partner and I have funded that personally.”

Both Mr Januszkiewicz and Ms Kavanagh were optimistic about the return of tourism but predicted it would be slow.

“I think it’s going to be steady as she goes … I don’t think there’s going to be this big influx,” Ms Kavanagh said.

“I would hope that Government continues to support … I don’t think it’s going to be a quick fix.”

Meanwhile, Qantas and Jetstar announced on Tuesday they would be increasing transtasman services, from April 13, to 30 return flights per week initially.

They said they would resume flights direct from Australia to Queenstown during May and June.

At present, there were no Air New Zealand direct flights from Queenstown to Australia until June.



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